Globally, there is a growing popularity of remote work, with countries like the US seeing a 159 percent increase in people who work remotely over the last two decades. While studies have shown that working from home can boost employees’ morale and job satisfaction, it can also lead to a significant drop in productivity if it’s not well planned and executed.
Luckily, there are many cost-effective tools available today that business owners and managers can use to streamline operations and maximize productivity when working remotely.
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Employee engagement tools
The importance of employee engagement when working remotely can’t be overstated — a report by Gallup showed that highly engaged businesses realize a 17 percent boost in employee productivity. Effective employee engagement strategies can also reduce staff turnover, retain customers at a higher rate, improve efficiency, and make more profits for the business.
For example, a tool like 15Five allows remote employees to let you know about any wins, pain points, job satisfaction, and frustrations they could be experiencing which shows them that you care about their views.
Project management tools
Managing a project involving remote workers can be a pain. Fortunately, you can use project resource management software to improve project handling and ensure efficient collaboration between everyone that’s working remotely on a particular project. Project management software allows you to create projects, assign tasks, track projects, and set deadlines all in one convenient place.
It also helps you to manage project budgets more effectively by allocating resources where they are needed most, tracking all associated project costs, and providing more accurate budget forecasts.
Cloud-based data storage
Storing your company data in the cloud will ensure that any piece of information that a remote employee needs at any given time can be accessed quickly and easily from any corner of the globe. Cloud-based storage solutions allow you to keep everything in a centralized location, saving you from having to share files via email or shuffle through thousands of physical documents.
However, when using cloud-based storage, the risk of cybercriminals gaining access to your sensitive business data is much higher, especially if any employee is using a public network to access the cloud. As such, you must take strong cybersecurity measures to keep your sensitive data safe including using a top-of-the-line perimeter firewall, installing intrusion detection systems with event logging capabilities, and encrypting your data.
If you’re going to be holding meetings with remote employees, clients, suppliers, and other people to discuss important business matters, a video-conferencing tool like Zoom can make it easier and more professional. Zoom lets anyone with a smartphone or laptop hold a meeting with one or multiple people regardless of their location.
Thanks to its high-quality audio and video, all meeting participants can see and hear each other clearly as if they were in the same room. However, when using any video-conferencing tool, you must ensure that it has strong built-in security measures to keep your sensitive conversations private.
One of the biggest challenges that you can face when managing remote employees is keeping tabs on them to ensure that they’re being as productive as they can be. It’s easy for employees to slack off when they know their boss cannot see what they’re doing; some are easily distracted by TV, social media, and pets when trying to work while others may even decide to take a day off without your knowledge.
This is why you need a time tracking tool. A well-designed time tracker like Time Doctor lets you monitor how remote workers are spending their time. Employees can create their own tasks on the time tracking tool to show the time of day they started working remotely on a particular project and how long it took them to complete it.
Using this data, managers can ensure that remote are staying productive as well as make adjustments to improve efficiency based on how long it takes workers to do certain projects. Some time tracking tools can also show you how much time employees waste on distractions like Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, or games.
Email management tools
The love-hate relationship that people often have with their emails can get even worse when everyone is working remotely. Going through emails is important since some of them could be important or urgent, but it can be overwhelming when you have to stay on top of a plethora of incoming emails.
With an email management tool, you can ensure that you and your employees handle emails more efficiently by prioritizing important emails, organizing conversations with tags, setting emails to snooze for follow-up later, and getting real-time notifications when employees are responding to important business emails.
Email management tools also come with spam filters to get rid of distracting and annoying spam messages so that you can focus on your job.
With remote work slowly becoming the norm, businesses must focus on deploying the right tools and establishing the right processes to ensure a smooth transition. This will help them transform into innovative, empathetic organizations where employees can feel more engaged and empowered.